Sunday, July 25, 2010

Planeswalking, Reminiscing, and DLC

Magic: The Gathering is probably the card game that best defines my adolescence. You know, the kind of adolescence that revolves around edge of your seat trades, passionate arguments of card abilities, and zero girlfriends. I loved it though, and of the many card games I played none could really compare to the might Magic held over myself and the masses.

Over the course of time, it was inevitable that I would eventually grow tired of the same ole, same ole shindig and cast aside my addiction for something arguably worse. Thankfully video games and the magic of the internet came along to make playing Magic easier than ever. A little title by the name of Duels of the Planeswalkers came to manifest itself on my television screen, and much joy was had.

Until time played its hand.

Card games are a tricky thing. Not only do you have to constantly maintain your deck by purchasing newly released chapters, or whatever they’re calling them nowadays, but you must physically travel in order to duel a real, living, breathing human. It’s a commitment and with it comes other hidden commitments you didn’t know you had. Magic is ostensibly a girlfriend. Being attentive and decisive as well as a bit committed is key. And that’s why I wanted to play a… I’d say contained, version of the game aka Duels of the Planeswalkers. It ensures that people all have access to the same cards, bringing more balance to the table instead of having Peter the Dark Sorcerer of Shoppingtown Mall wiping everyone out with his $2,000 black/artifact deck.

 The board is great and spell effects are nice, but you'll want to turn them off after a while.

Unfortunately the game is a mess. It’s not because of limited customization or a set amount of decks to choose from, but because of other restrictions and absent features. The biggest issue is the inability to add/remove cards from your starting deck and don’t even think about looking at the mana you start with. That stuff is on lockdown. I can’t help but ask why this is. Removing one Hill Giant and replacing it with a mountain doesn’t seem like a game breaking move to me. What’s even worse is the law against adding any kind of extra mana to your deck. This is further accentuated when you start unlocking and adding the positively electrifying extra cards to your deck. It’s great you can throw them in, but any Magic veteran will tell you that having little mana and tons of creatures won’t work. And guess what? It doesn’t.

 Don't even think about adding more mana! When I saw that the game had multiplayer, I deemed it a joyous occasion and immediately tried to jump into a game with a friend. You can do that, but there’s no option to fight with your buddy at your side. That, to me, was a serious crime. Yeah it’s fun to do a four way free-for-all with friends but there comes a time when you want some extra options and they simply aren’t there. All of this, though, fell into the distant void when I was struck with what I like to call “Magic heresy.” I attempted to cast a multi-colored spell and the computer picked what lands to tap without my consent. That, was the final straw for me.

The list of my displeasure can run on and on, but I left that game to collect digital dust some time ago. Why I stopped to look at recently released downloadable content then I can’t tell you, but I did laugh a hearty laugh, which was followed by a small cringe. For the low, low price of .99 cents you can turn all of the cards within a single deck to foil. Yes, all your cards will become the holographic eye-candy that little kids dish a blood-curdling scream out for. I’d really love to see the number of people who buy this type of thing. I’m sure I’d be stupefied.

Anyhow, for what’s it worth I had fun with the game. It still may be chilling to me that so much is off, but there aren’t very many good Magic games out there. Duels of the Planeswalkers comes close but alas, my search will continue.

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